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16:30 03/13/2011
Palestinian Youth Movement: Cherries not Strawberries!!

By Ibrahim Shikaki

For many outside Palestine this analogy might not make any sense, since strawberries and cherries are both available throughout the year. In Palestine, like in many 'developing' countries, we eat in season; strawberries ripe in spring, cherries in summer.

There has been a great deal of discussion on the Palestinian youth movement after the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and other Arab countries. Debate heated particularly after the call to go down on the streets on March 15th and call for the end of “the division” between the two main political parties.

Several youth groups have recognized that ending this division is yet but a minimal cause in a wider picture, and have decided to unite on a demand for legitimate representation of Palestinian by calling for an election of the Palestinian National Council (PNC). By creating new election mechanisms, such a body would represent Palestinians around the globe. The ultimate goal is to find a body that -unlike the existing- allows and adopts a resistance program; a program that recognizes and fights against the three layers of oppression; Palestinians living under illegal occupation in the WBGS, Palestinians living as 4th and 5th class citizens inside the state of Israel, and Palestinians expelled from their lands and living in refugee camps and elsewhere around the world.

However, several sides have tried to hijack this movement and momentum; political parties have steered this movement to their goals, especially the major parties who exploited this so as to accuse protestors with treason. The resigned-care-taker-government of Salam Fayyad is trying legitimize itself after failing to create a unity government by ‘supporting” youth and dialogue, using its mass media machine. And finally, the youth NGOs claim to represent youth for marketing motives (there have even been rumors that the head of one of the NGOs might be future minister of youth!!).

Tens of groups have been meeting and debating, and a lot of ideas and positive points have surfaced, but truth be said, the Palestinian youth movement is not ready to pick its fruit yet. There are several factors for this, such as the lack of communication and networking, the ambiguity of certain goals and mechanisms to reach them, as well as the detachment with the vast majority of the Palestinian people (most groups being in Ramallah). Having said that, the youth movement needs time to develop, and just like summer fruits, spring time is crucial for cherries, buds of the winter turn into flowers in the spring, these finally turning into the fruit in midsummer.

The Palestinians youth movement will benefit from the 15th in three ways, it will be a first test for their capability to mobilize people, second it will be a meeting space for some of the groups that have only met virtually on social media outlets and by reading each other’s articles, and finally, the 15th will be the last chance for political parties -and they will fail- in restoring what was left from people’s faith in them (I personally suspect a clash between the Fatah youth supporting the PA, and some of the left parties calling to end Oslo and the political process).

March 15th is just the beginning, it represents the chance for the Palestinian youth movement to flower, and within the next months it will develop and ripen until it is ready to be picked, in summer. September represents a turning point after the deadline for both Fayyad and Obama is expired. By then, Palestinian youth will be ready to pick the cherries!!

- Ibrahim Shikaki contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Contact him at: i.shikaki@gmail.com.

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